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     A Boy Divided

We can all probably easily recognize this story as a clear case of a child being put in the middle between divorced parents. But what can be done?...Children can have qualitatively different attachments with each parent. Research consistently shows that a secure attachment with a parent or other trusted adult can ameliorate the effects of troubled attachments and trauma, creating new experiences and new pathways in the brain...(Click for full article)

     A Surprising Cause of Conflicts in Relationships (and Easy Remedy)

A common but often undetected source of conflict in relationships is harboring an inaccurate belief about your partner’s (or teenager’s) intentions. Our perception of why the other person did or didn’t do something, and what we believe that means...(Click for full article)

     A Surprising Trick for You (and Teens) to Resist Temptation

There are two states of mind we can be in when it comes to temptation: zooming in and fantasizing about the rush, or zooming out and seeing the broader picture of how things will play out if we act on our impulses. Knowing where our actions will lead before a tempting situation takes hold gives us a chance to make an informed decision...(Click for full article)

     Being A Grownup When Your Kid Hates You

This column tells a story based on a composite of real-life situations in therapy to represent both teen and parent viewpoints on anger and guilt in families during divorce.Sabrina, 18, was a freshman away at college. Shortly after she arrived at school she found out that her parents had just split up. Sabrina also soon discovered that her dad had been having an affair since she was in high school, and was still involved with the other woman...(Click for full article)

     Bonding with Your Teen: A Hidden Opportunity

How can we tell whether our reactions are coming from our own unresolved issues versus “legitimate”?...(Click for full article)

     Competing Family Loyalties

As the child becomes an adult, a mother with an anxious, insecure attachment style may refuse to let go, secretly needing to remain the primary love attachment. This may not become apparent until her son find a romantic love partner and devotes himself to her, allowing a competitor to enter the scene. The situation is then often enacted in full drama around family events and holidays when the mother’s explicit demands, and (unspoken) expectation of “loyalty” (e.g. exclusive love) from her son, conflicts with his role as a husband...(Click for full article)

     Courage and Limits With Your Teen

Recognize that, though they will say otherwise (and that’s ok), teens feel protected by limits. No one likes feeling out of control without anyone strong enough to help them...(Click for full article)

     Crisis of Confidence in a Teen: It's a Family Matter

This story is about a teenager who undergoes a crisis of confidence, after her identity was challenged by a sports injury. Her resulting difficulties challenged the well-being and stability of the whole family...(Click for full article)

     Does Your Teenager Want to Get Caught?

This is the story of a kid who feels propelled to act out - yet equally powerful is his unconscious need to get caught. The essence of what’s needed is to listen and respond to danger in a firm and caring way. Protection occurs through interested, open, informed, pro-active, non-judgmental conversation - and appropriate limits delivered in a non-punitive way. The research finding that a close, supportive relationship with parents (as perceived by teenagers) is the most protective measure against underage drinking, sexual activity and violence is good news for us and no surprise...(Click for full article)

     Easy Steps to Reconnect: A Guide for Emotionally Avoidant Dads

Empathic ability, or “mind reading,” is an aspect of brain development that occurs as parents are able to read their children’s reactions and respond emotionally in a way that helps kids regulate their emotional states. This process also involves the parent helping the child understand what is happening interpersonally and emotionally. The child digests and internalizes such experiences, building the capacity to make sense of themselves and relationships, and to manage emotions in interpersonal situations...(Click for full article)

     Executive Function Problem or Just a Lazy Kid (Part 1)

A common denominator and basis of all executive functioning is the ability to hold things in mind, step back and reflect. Without this capacity, it is difficult to have perspective, judgment, or control. Therefore, admonishing or punishing children who are not following the rules because of limited executive function is not only ineffective, but leads children who are already often frustrated and discouraged to feel bad about themselves and unsupported...(Click for full article)

     Executive Function Problem or Just a Lazy Kid (Part 2)

Without accurately understanding children’s behavior, we may intervene in ways that compound the situation, creating a control struggle on top of the original problem. To be effective in helping children, we must accurately diagnose the problem and be curious: What’s causing this behavior? Though they may look the same, a problem of defiance is handled differently than one of capacity. Learning difficulties involving executive functioning are neurologically based, but executive functioning is sensitive to and impeded by stress. Parents’ reactions can, in this way, become an additional impediment to children’s executive functioning...(Click for full article)

     Getting Unhooked From Pain and Choosing Happiness

Dysfunctional behavior patterns are habits with psychological, often unconscious motives. Breaking them requires not only insight into what function they serve and the discipline to stop them, but the courage and initiative to try out new behaviors and allow a different chain of events to be set in motion. On a neurobehavioral level, new behaviors that generate positive feedback create new pathways in the brain, allowing momentum for psychological growth and change...(Click for full article)

     Having a Smooth "Break-up" With Your College-Bound Teen

Casey, having just turned 18, is faced with suddenly being “grown up.” The more his mom tells him what to do and what he needs to learn for college, the less confident he feels, requiring him to put up a front of independence and bravado and having to argue the position that he already knows how to do everything. Unimpeded development of self-confidence and independence in children is contingent on mothers’ ability to provide a protective, but not over-protective, or obtrusive presence...(Click for full article)

     High Speed Parenting with Teens - A Common Cause of Broken Connections

Without knowing how to decode teens behavior, and/or when emotional factors interfere with perspective, parents are vulnerable to misinterpreting difficult situations based on their own feelings and the literal, often misleading message they perceive from teens...(Click for full article)

     How Parents Can Help Teens Under Academic Pressure (and 5 Common Traps)

When grades are slipping and teens don’t seem to be taking action, it’s easy to react from frustration and helplessness. Under pressure, parents can fall into common traps without realizing it. Doing so unintentionally adds to kids’ anxiety and discouragement, which saps motivation and destabilizes them...(Click for full article)

     How to Be Protective When Your Son Thinks He is Gay

Parents don’t have the power to influence whether children are gay but do have the power to influence how children feel about themselves. A close relationship with parents has been found to provide the best insulation from dangers in the outside world...(Click for full article)

     How to Get More of the Behavior You Want in Kids (Without Really Trying)

When kids independently do what we would have wanted, either their natural inclinations sync with our values - or our values have been successfully transmitted. At these happy moments, an ill-timed temptation to jump in to emphasize a lesson may pop up from anxiety, perfectionism, or difficulty letting go. Instead of riding the wave and following children’s lead, we hijack it, emphasizing our approval, offering rewards, or reminding them this is what we’ve been saying all along...(Click for full article)

     Know Your Limits: A Prom Primer for Parents

According to the National Institute of Health, drinking - the drug of choice among youth - plays a major role in death from injuries, and injuries are the leading cause of death for kids under 21...(Click for full article)

     Parental Anxiety Over Kids' Perceived Failures (Part 1)

One of the most common and difficult challenges for parents is how to contain our reactions, and not make things worse, when children don’t do well or fail to measure up to our expectations. Certain types of families with children who are not high achievers, or who have impediments getting in the way, have a harder time dealing with this issue in their kids and are more vulnerable...(Click for full article)

     Parental Guilt Over Kids' Perceived Failures (Part 2)

When parents feel guilty or excessively bad for children, it’s harder to set limits, be truthful and direct, and challenge kids within their zone of capability. This inhibits opportunities for children to develop self-control, confidence and realistic expectations of themselves and others, perpetuating the cycle of underachievement...(Click for full article)

     Parenting Teens: 7 Important Questions with Answers that Sort Truth from Fiction

Parents of teens can use answers. But it’s not so easy to stay updated. This questionnaire highlights common questions and popular confusions to help parents sort out truth from fiction...(Click for full article)

     Power Plays Between Brothers & Families

Authoritarian parenting and parental aggression, requiring submission and obedience, can backfire. Forcing obedience breeds aggression, resentment, and the need to escape through disobedience or becoming submerged. Also, children internalize blueprints from the family. Experiences in the family become imprinted in the brain, serving as templates for future relationships...(Click for full article)

     Protecting Teens from Danger: Tips and Advice for Parents - Part 2

​The teenage brain has been compared to a car with a powerful gas pedal and weak brakes when stimulated by the presence, or even anticipated witnessing, of other teens. Drawn to their peers, teens pull away from us - and then rev each other up into risky experimenting and sensation​-seeking. Parents can help teens stay safer and develop the skills to make better decisions by using approaches informed by the teenage mindset. An effective and empowering strategy with teens involves being mindful of their limitations and intrinsic motivations/drives, using their biases to our (and their) advantage​ - and in the service of positive choices.​..(Click for full article)​

     Protecting Teens from the Spread of Suicide

Although we don’t usually think of suicide as contagious, one of the strongest predictors of suicide in youth is the suicide or suicide attempt of a friend or family member...(Click for full article)

     PSYCHOLOGY NEWS - Improve your Relationship with your Teen: 10 Easy Tips for Parents

     Seduced by Risk and Danger: The Teenage Mindset - Part 1

Research suggests that adolescence may represent a “critical period” in which the brain is particularly sensitive to being shaped by experiences - creating both vulnerability and opportunity depending on what behaviors are practiced during this time. Teens who take the most risks have relatively poorer outcomes in adulthood in relationships and work. But, interestingly, teens who are risk averse have equally poor outcomes as those who are the riskiest...(Click for full article)

     Seeing Beneath The Surface With Your Teen

Daniel’s story speaks to the insidious danger of hidden pain in teens who feel unspoken pressure to be “good” to protect their parents or make up for other family problems - however secret or veiled. In such situations teens are vulnerable to using desperate measures to escape their feelings, or break out of their concealed inner life and test their parent’s love...(Click for full article)

     Stressed Out Teens - Empathic Parents: What to Do When It's Contagious?

Approaching - rather than avoiding - problems using a confident, matter-of-fact, respectful demeanor and time-limited, planned approach helps desensitize teens to their fear of anxiety (the cause of panic). The accumulated experience of doing this expands teens’ capacity to tolerate feelings rather than have meltdowns...(Click for full article)

     Surefire Ways to Alienate Your Adult Children (and Other People)

This article discusses confusing patterns that occur with narcissistic and controlling parents and other people...(Click for full article)

     Teen Drinking: Limits vs. Punishment

This article offers helpful hints about talking to your teen about drinking. Intent and motive (easily sensed by teens) are what differentiate consequences and limits (protective) from punishment and control (reactive). Some teens want limits imposed by parents so they can restrict themselves and still save face. But limits should be informed by understanding the teen’s particular unspoken needs and vulnerabilities - and tempered by a calm tone, uncritical language, and positive message...(Click for full article)

     Teens and Internet Pornography

What should parents do when they discover that their young teen or pre-teen has been looking at pornography sites online?... And what are the potential negative effects of viewing online pornography?...(Click for full article)

     The Paradox of Pushing Kids to Succeed

Our teens are embedded in a culture driven by competition and perfectionism, where success is defined by status, performance and appearance. These values are transmitted to our children nonverbally through our emotional state and through what we notice, are impressed with, and praise or discourage in them...(Click for full article)

     The Pressure Cooker Before College: How to help teens

The senior year countdown to college brings out parents’ worries and fears alongside teens’ own anxieties and self-doubt. During this time of escalating pressure and stress in families, parents can fall into common traps that defeat their intention to help and interfere with teens developing capacities...(Click for full article)

     Transforming Struggles with Kids into Parenting that Works

The challenge of getting distracted, strong-willed and many other kids to follow routines and guidelines can test any parent’s patience. The flavor of the struggle varies with age and topic, but begins when toddlers first discover autonomy and revel in saying “no,” persisting throughout adolescence...(Click for full article)

     Weddings, Graduations and Other Chapter Endings

Milestones such as weddings and graduations are complicated and not always filled with bliss...(Click for full article)

     When Good Intentions Fall Short

Research has shown that regardless of what happened in the past, we can heal and grow and be good parents. Findings in neurobiology further suggest that whether we heal or continue to pass on our pain is determined by our capacity to know and integrate the truth of our experience into a cohesive story - emotionally and interpersonally, past and present. Julius struggled with periodic bouts of anger, mostly towards his children and occasionally his wife, Elizabeth. During these incidents, he projected a superior and critical attitude and became entrenched in rigid, pre-fabricated ways of thinking and acting. He exhibited an impenetrable certainty that he was “right” and was convinced that others deserved what they got and needed to be taught a lesson - a way of thinking and behaving reminiscent of his dad...(Click for full article)

     When Teens (or 20 somethings) Think You're Bugging Them - But Really They're Bugging You

This article is about a common dynamic in families in which parents feel controlled by their teen's anger, irritability, and/or fragility and, as a result, avoid approaching certain topics or setting needed limits - with unintended consequences for kids and parents. It discusses this dynamic, common obstacles to giving truthful feedback and setting boundaries, and gives practical tips for how to overcome them...(Click for full article)

     When Your Kids Disappoint You

Parents may have a clear vision of their child’s “potential.” When this is discrepant from kids’ actual performance, they may fear their children’s futures. Even more unnerving is when kids don’t share these visions or worries. It’s enough to make any parent want to shake them into shape. “Potential,” however, must incorporate personality, developmental and emotional factors which impinge on resilience and capacity. For example, bright kids may get poor grades when they are unable to withstand pressure, or when energies are consumed by urgent concerns such as fitting in socially or fear of failing...(Click for full article)


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Dr. Lynn Margolies * 53 Langley Rd., Suite 210 * Newton, MA 02459 * 617.244.2444
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